Friday, April 17, 2009

Real Italians in Balmain

A couple of years ago, I was walking past an empty shopfront in Castlereagh St in the city. There were two guys standing there and one said to the other, "I want to have a proper cafe here, run by real Italians". At the time, I wondered what 'real Italians' were, as opposed to, say, unreal ones. Obviously, the cafe never eventuated because it is now the site of the Faberge workshop. Maybe he couldn't find any real Italians to run it.

Anway, and this is where I'm heading... an Italian restaurant has opened in Balmain, on the site of a previous Italian restaurant. Fico Ristorante is run by the same owners as another restaurant in Five Dock, and they have the 'real Italian' thing down pat.

The restaurant takes advantage of the woodfired pizza oven that serviced the previous restaurant (Il Cortile) and the menu is fairly traditional with set sauces for each pasta, and 'no variations' on the pizzas. Excuse the fuzzy photos, it was pretty dark in there.

We started with fried zucchini flowers ($19) and beef carpaccio ($20) that was so thin and so soft that you didn't have to chew it.
Fiori - crusted zucchini flowers, anchovies, fior di latte, tomato and basil marmalade;
Carpaccio - thinly sliced beef, cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, olive oil

For mains, I had pappardelle with veal osso buco ($24) - melt in the mouth dreamy - while bf had Anatra duck ($34) with cannellini beans and cherries, which were an unusual taste combination.

Pappardelle - with slow-braised veal osso buco, white wine, parmesan, herbs
Anatra - Slow-braised duck, spinach, cannellini beans, chilli-liqueur cherry
We finished with a long black for me ($4) and bf had Crespella ($14).

Crespella - crepe with white chocolate, coconut semifreddo, caramelised banana
Long black
All up, the meal was great, though in the upper price range for this type of food.
They also do takeaway pizzas, which look good, judging by what was coming out of the pizza oven. And note the 'Real Italian Pizza' on the menu on the wall...!
Fico Ristorante is at 342 Darling St, Balmain, NSW.


  1. Yum, that sounds like good food. The pasta sounds great, and the dessert is making me jealous.

  2. Hehe at real Italians-I wonder if there are any faux Italians around? I must let me friend know about this, she's very much into Italian food being a real Italian of course! :)

  3. belle! yuM!!!!
    I havent had italian in a while. I never seem to choose italian restaurants not sure whyy.... i guess im afraid sometimes of how pastas can be a hit / miss or a simple / i can make this at home myself..

    Your italian meals looks like it takes it to a different level! Love it! love th ephotos too

  4. hi Arwen - yes, it was pretty good. And even though it wasn't my dessert, I did have a (biggish) taste.

    hi Lorraine - the 'real Italians' thing was funny! I hear that Rosso Pomodoro also has authentic pizza (and Italians!).

    hi Leona - I read somewhere that pasta is the cheapest dish for restaurants to make, so I rarely order it either. This one was really good, though.

  5. Wow! I'm getting really jealous of all your exciting food adventures, Belle!! ;) Absolutely delectable in every way! Great photos too!